Facebook is trying to hire Robert Gibbs, President Obama's longtime adviser and former press secretary, as head of communications in advance of going public in 2012. When Gibbs left the White House last month, he said his plans were to help Obama's reelection campaign before taking a private-sector job. But Facebook is likely to face greater scrutiny than ever over its privacy policies, user security, and valuation in the secondary market (last seen teetering between $60 billion and $75 billion) leading up to its IPO, which is expected to be the largest offering in the history of the world/Internet. Facebook's lobbyists have already met with the FTC, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
To get Gibbs to consider applying that same fierce foot-in-the-door avoidance strategy to Zuckerberg's press dealings, Facebook is pressuring him with piles and piles of cash. DealBook's sources says Gibbs would receive a cash salary as well as shares in the company. Gibbs's name has also been floated as a possible chairman of the DNC. He's been consulting with other White House insiders about whether to take the job, including David Axelrod, who is helping to lead Obama's reelection team.
If Gibbs does take the job, it will draw a line between the President and the tech industry as the election approaches. It may not be as lucrative or entrenched a connection as the last Bush regime and the oil industry. But Obama better hope the coming wave of tech IPOs don't make a popping sound once they hit the public markets.
Facebook May Hire Robert Gibbs, Former Obama Aide [DealBook/NYT]